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Self-Therapy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating Wholeness and Healing Your Inner Child Using IFS, A New, Cutting-Edge Psychotherapy Paperback – September 15, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The fact that Jay Earley wrote this book is high praise for the IFS model because he was an accomplished writer and thinker long before encountering IFS. Jay's passion has been to introduce IFS to a lay audience so that people can work with their parts on their own. Through well-described experiential exercises and examples of actual IFS sessions, you will be able to enter your inner world, heal your extreme parts, and transform them into valuable resources." --Richard Schwartz, PhD, creator of IFS, from the Foreword

Enormously hopeful and empowering, this book illuminates the process of Internal Family Systems (IFS) as a method of self-therapy that centers on the revolutionary principle that all of us have a Self. Presenting a view of the human psyche with this calm, compassionate, curious Self at the center, Jay Earley takes the reader step-by-step through a method of self-exploration which views overwhelming emotion and dysfunctional behavior as stemming from parts that are doing their best to help the person survive. Earley's writing is beautifully organized and clear,as compassionate and respectful as the process he is teaching, and the reader is supported and encouraged at every step. Anyone wishing to live a fuller, richer,more meaningful life, or help others do so, needs to read this book. --Ann Weiser Cornell, PhD, author of The Power of Focusing and The Radical Acceptance of Everything

The non-pathologizing and empowering aspects of the IFS Model find their ultimate expression in Dr. Earley's book, Self-Therapy. Exercises, illustrations, and session transcripts supplement this detailed approach for individuals to safely work alone or with a peer to transform their inner worlds dominated by outmoded beliefs to lives filled with love, compassion, and connection. Therapists, too, will appreciate this clear map of the inner territory of the psyche and will find this book a valuable and accessible resource for their clients. --Susan McConnell, senior IFS trainer

Jay has the gift of both insight and teaching--and he uses both in his new book. He allows us access to the many many layers of our selves and helps us to understand, work with and ultimately feel harmonious with behaviors that have baffled us. Self-therapy is a wonderful cogent guide written by a wonderful cogent teacher. --Geneen Roth, author of When Food is Love and Women Food and God

From the Author


1. Personal Healing and Growth the IFS Way
2. Your Internal System: Summary of the IFS Model
3. Taking an Inner Journey: Example of an IFS Session

Part I: Self and Protectors
4. Getting Acquainted Inside: Accessing Your Parts
5. Becoming Centered: Unblending from a Protector
6. Being Open and Curious: Unblending from a Concerned Part
7. Knowing Yourself: Discovering a Protector's Role
8. Befriending Yourself: Developing a Trusting Relationship with a Protector
9. Keeping Sessions on Track: Detecting Parts that Arise

Part II: Exiles and Unburdening
10. Being Allowed In: Getting Permission to Work with an Exile
11. Uncovering Your Pain: Getting to Know an Exile
12. Finding Where It Started: Accessing and Witnessing Childhood Memories
13. Caring for an Inner Child: Reparenting and Retrieving an Exile
14. Healing a Wounded Child: Unburdening an Exile
15. Transforming a Protective Role into a Healthy One: Unburdening a Protector
16. Supporting the Therapy Process: Tips on Working Alone, with a Partner, or with a Therapist
17. Conclusion

Appendix A: Help Sheet for the IFS Process
Appendix B: IFS Resources

From the Foreword

One way to judge a model of psychotherapy is by the kind of people it
attracts. The fact that Jay Earley wrote this book is high praise for the IFS
model because he was an accomplished writer and thinker, steeped in
systems thinking, long before encountering IFS. Jay's passion has been to
introduce IFS to a lay audience in such a way that people can work with
their parts on their own--without the need for a therapist. He has been
pursuing this goal with great success through his teleconference classes
for several years. Through those experiences, he developed the structure
of this book.

Another way to judge a model of psychotherapy is by whether
it fosters dependence on the therapist or empowers people to trust
themselves. This book can help you bring a new sense of compassion and
healing to yourself without having to be in therapy. Through Jay's userfriendly
description of IFS, you will begin to change how you do "self talk,"
or internal dialogue. As you relate to even your most shameful emotions
and impulses with curiosity rather than judgment and with caring rather
than disgust, you will find that these parts of you are not what they seem.
They are valuable inner resources that have been distorted by difficult
life experiences. Even more uplifting, you will learn that you have a core,
an essence, that is untouched by life's traumas. What IFS calls the Self is
in every one of us; it is a source of wonderful qualities from which we
can lead our inner and outer lives. In this way, the book releases our selfconcepts
from the pathological and pessimistic way we have been taught
to view ourselves. It proposes a new, optimistic, and edifying vision of the
mind and shows how easily it can change and heal.

This book does even more than that. Yet another way to judge a
psychotherapy is by whether it merely teaches people to cope with their extreme emotions and beliefs or actually transforms those emotions and
beliefs. Through well-described experiential exercises and examples of
actual IFS sessions, you will be able to enter your inner world in such a
way that your extreme parts begin to heal. Rather than just coping with
them, you welcome them and transform them into valuable resources.
You are also encouraged to form partnerships with friends in which you
accompany each other on these inner journeys, which can deepen your

This may all sound too good to be true, and for some readers
it will be. There will be some who cannot achieve this kind of change
on their own and will need to find a therapist to help them. My twentyseven
years of experience using this model, however, tell me that many
people can do a great deal of work on themselves without a therapist.
They may not be able to unburden all their exiles, but they can reverse
the atmosphere of their inner worlds from one of self-loathing to self-love
and Self-leadership. Also, people who are in therapy will find the book a
useful guide for their between-session work on themselves.

Therapy is too expensive in both time and money for many
people. I'm grateful that this book allows IFS to extend its reach to those
who would not otherwise have access to it.

Richard C. Schwartz, PhD, creator of IFS, author of Internal Family Systems
Therapy, The Mosaic Mind, and You Are The One You've Been Waiting For.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Mill City Press, Inc. (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936107082
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936107087
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,080,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jay Earley, Ph.D., is a transformational psychologist, psychotherapist, group leader, author, teacher, and theorist.

He is a big-picture thinker and innovative psychological theorist. He studies psychotherapy in a comprehensive way to arrive at a depth understanding of the human psyche and the process of transformation. Jay is known the clarity of his teaching and writing, his creative methods of demonstrating complex ideas, and his detailed description of therapeutic technique. In his therapy work, people rely on Jay's compassionate heart and sensitivity to group process. He has a deep understanding of the nature of therapeutic change and knows how to effect profound inner healing.

Jay is the creator of Self-Therapy Journey, which is the first of its kind, a general purpose web program for psychological healing and personal growth, based on IFS and the Pattern System. See www.selftherapyjourney.com.

Jay focuses on Internal Family Systems Therapy in all aspects of his work. See www.personal-growth-programs.com. He is active in the IFS community, helping to train therapists and presenting workshops every year at the IFS conference. He teaches IFS to the general public as a practice for self-help and peer counseling. He also teaches a variety of classes and workshops applying IFS to specific psychological issues such as procrastination, communication, relationships, and the inner critic.

Jay is the author of Self-Therapy: A Step-by-Step Guide to Inner Wholeness Using IFS. Click http://podbay.fm/show/415409779/e/1431249444?autostart=1 to listen to a Psychology Book Club podcast discussing Self-Therapy. Click https://selftherapyjourney.com/Pattern/Beginning/Jay_Earley_Sounds_True_Video.aspx to watch an interview of Jay by Tami Simon of Sounds True about IFS.

Four of Jay's books have been published in Korean and one in German.

Jay has published a series of professional books on IFS, including Resolving Inner Conflict, Working with Anger in IFS, and Negotiating for Self-Ledadership. Jay Earley and Bonnie Weiss have published a series of audio products related to IFS, including recorded IFS Courses, IFS Demonstration Sessions, and IFS Guided Meditations. See www.personal-growth-programs.com/products/

Dr. Earley has created the Pattern System, a systematic approach to understanding your personality that can lead directly to psychological healing and personal growth. See www.patternsystem.com. He has published an overview book called The Pattern System and a book titled Conflict, Care, and Love that covers some of the important interpersonal dimensions. He has also published a series of books based on specific patterns, including Embracing Intimacy, Taking Action, and Letting Go of Perfectionism.

Jay Earley and Bonnie Weiss have engaged in a multi-year study of the Inner Critic and the best ways to work with this troublesome psychological issue, using IFS and other approaches. This has resulted in two books, Freedom from Your Inner Critic and Activating Your Inner Champion Instead of Your Inner Critic.

Dr. Earley is known for his innovation in the group psychotherapy field. His book, Interactive Group Therapy: Integrating Interpersonal, Action-Oriented, and Psychodynamic Approaches, describes his group therapy method in which people learn interpersonal relationship skills by working directly on their relationships with each other. During his ten years on the east coast, Jay was Director of the Group Therapy Center of Long Island, where he trained group therapists in this method. He now leads interactive therapy groups online.

In Jay's work with people, he is known for his empathy and his ability to understand a person's feelings, issues, and world view without imposing his own personality or agenda. His insight into human motivation and psychological patterns enables him to help people understand both their strengths and how they block themselves from getting what they want.

His work grows out of his own life-long journey of personal growth, his interest in the nature of human consciousness, and his success in creating a passionate and satisfying life for himself. He has a loving, successful 25 year marriage and professional partnership with Bonnie Weiss. He was a long-time student of the Diamond Approach of A. H. Almaas, a spiritual path that integrates psychotherapy insights and techniques with wisdom traditions in a unique Western approach to spiritual realization.

Jay has a Ph.D. in psychology from Saybrook University and is a licensed psychologist in California (PSY6973). He has been in private practice as a psychotherapist since 1973.

As a result of his research on human social evolution and its relationship to our current global predicament, Jay has published a number of articles plus the book, Transforming Human Culture: Social Evolution and the Planetary Crisis, SUNY Press.

During the 1980′s, Jay studied with both Jean Houston and Joanna Macy. He was active in the peace movement as a member of Interhelp and Psychotherapists for Social Responsibility, where he led workshops which integrated psychological, spiritual, and planetary concerns. Out of this work came his book, Inner Journeys: A Guide to Personal and Social Transformation based on the Work of Jean Houston, published by Samuel Weiser, Inc.

Jay also has a Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie-Mellon University and was formerly on the U.C. Berkeley faculty, where he published 12 computer science papers, one of which was voted one of the best 25 papers of the quarter century by the Communications of the A.C.M.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you're wanting to learn IFS, GET THIS BOOK. I couldn't repeat that too much.

I took the official IFS Level I trainings, 6 long weekends and many thousand dollars. On the very last weekend I dove into "Self Therapy." It was only then that I got the practical how to of IFS. Jay Earley's writing made it click.

The author made what seemed so vague and impractical during the training come alive. His straight forward writing and descriptive images communicate the practical side. His introduction makes sense to my clients. His condensed version of an IFS session at the back of the book is worth the price several times over. Need I say more? If you want to learn IFS, GET THIS BOOK.
1 Comment 86 of 88 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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EDIT: One year on, this is still a good book but I now see the market is crowded with parts/ego states therapies and they are all good. I personally am coming to prefer some of the original stuff from the stream of the Watkinses, especially the work of Emmerson which I find technically superior to IFS and more comfortable for me -- in particular, I now don't agree with the parts typology of IFS which I think creates parts unnecessarily. (Yes I do think parts are created or anyway re-created by means of therapy; to observe something alters it.) There is also too much focus on the reality of imagined images in IFS and not enough on their malleability and ultimate unreality or virtuality.

I am docking a star but will let the original review stand below for reference -- I do try to do "longitudinal reviewing" for books of this type, updating after a period of time, because experience is the only real arbiter. (Many reviews here will be from people who haven't tried the techniques at length). One should also explore the parts therapy of Hunter if interested in hypnosis, which I am, and there is a new book by Noricks from last year that I haven't got to yet. Finally I think Schmidt's
...Read more ›
2 Comments 105 of 109 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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This text is invaluable for clinicians as well as for individuals who want to do internal psychological healing work on their own. Dr. Earley explains each concept in several different ways to ensure clarity and the illustrations are a great visual look at how our 'Parts' interact with each other. He had supplied comprehensive, exciting and 'do-able homework' that walks us through each concept. This methodology brings compassion and deep respect for client's and their 'Parts', while offering an experiential way for us to get to know our Selves.

I am on my second read and still catching nuances that I missed the first time. This will be a book that I will re-read many times and will consult frequently.
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Reading Self-Therapy was extremely illuminating--as though someone had given me the missing manual for my brain. I now have difficulty imagining how I functioned without this understanding and perspective, and I think the short answer is that I didn't function nearly as well. This book is a reliable, straightforward set of instructions for transforming any unhealthy behavior or thought pattern, and releasing any unwanted emotional response. If that sounds too good to be true, it's also completely fun to do the work: I get to go into a trance state, peek behind the curtain of my mind, become conscious of what is driving my behavior, and solve the problem by being creative with imagery.

This book is a very clearly written and easy to understand set of instructions for doing IFS therapy, which is so powerful that I am somewhat confused about why everyone isn't using it. Self-Therapy profoundly improved my effectiveness at accomplishing my goals and increased my overall sense of well-being. I recommend it to everyone I know.

If you do read the book, my one recommendation is to actually try the process outlined within on yourself, preferably with a friend to help. It took me a while to figure out how to use the system, but ever since I have done so I have a method I know will work for gaining clarity, changing behavior patterns, and have fun while doing it, so no problem in my life feels intractable and suffering seems entirely optional. It's that powerful. Let this book change your life.
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I have been using Ego State approaches in the teaching and practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy for the past 20 years. For many years I have drawn on the Transactional Analysis theory of Ego states and found it most helpful, especially when used in conjunction with the more creative methodology of Gestalt therapy. A number of years ago I got introduced to the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model of Ego States developed by Richard Schwartz. This opened up the Ego state field for me and expanded Ego States beyond the Parent, Adult and Child model of Transactional Analysis. It also offered very rich and promising possibilities for working with Ego states in the clinical setting. However it was when I read Self-Therapy that the possibilities of the IFS approach really came to life for me. I have found Self-Therapy to be one of the most clinically useful sources that I have come across in quite a while. Somehow, it expertly unpacks the IFS approach, and I find myself using it very actively with clients in a way that represents a considerable advance over my previous use of ego state methodology. I have told many of my clients, colleagues, and supervisees about the book and they are finding it helpful also. I am using it in teaching Ego state theory and practice to Adult Counseling and Psychotherapy trainees. They are reading the book and actively engaged with the experiential exercises contained in the accompanying workbook. In Self-Therapy Jay Earley does full justice to the depth and complexity of the IFS approach but presents it in a most accessible and user-friendly way. The test of this is that people with no previous experience of the Ego States or IFS approaches can readily grasp and apply the concepts.
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